Justia Business Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Illinois Supreme Court
Bartlow v. Costigan
The Illinois Department of Labor sent Jack’s Roofing a notice of investigation of possible violation of the Employee Classification Act, 820 ILCS 185/3.25 by misclassifying employees as independent contractors. Jack’s provided the Department with requested information. Preliminary determination found misclassification of 10 individuals for eight to 160 days and calculated a potential penalty of $1,683,000. The Department requested a response within 30 days for consideration before final determination. Less than a month later, the Department sent notice of a second investigation Jack's sought injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment that the Act is unconstitutional as violating: the special legislation clause of the Illinois Constitution because it subjects the construction industry to more stringent employment standards than other industries; the due process clauses of the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions because it does not provide an opportunity to be heard and is impermissibly vague; the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against bills of attainder because it is a legislative act that inflicts punishment without a judicial trial; and the equal protection clauses of both constitutions because no other industry is subjected to the same standards when seeking to hire independent contractors. On remand, the court denied relief, finding the Act valid and enforceable. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed in part, rejecting facial constitutional challenges. A procedural due process challenge to enforcement provisions has been rendered moot by the recent amendments to the Act, which must be applied to plaintiffs in the future. The court also affirmed that section 10 of the Act is not unconstitutionally vague. Remaining constitutional challenges to the Act were forfeited. View "Bartlow v. Costigan" on Justia Law
Ctr. Partners, Ltd. v. Growth Head GP, LLC,
Plaintiffs are minority limited partners in Urban Shopping Centers, L.P., in which defendants acquired a majority interest in 2002. Plaintiffs allege breach of fiduciary and contractual duties, claiming that, pursuant to the operating agreement, defendants were not to compete with them in business opportunities. They alleged that defendants stopped growing plaintiffs’ business, disregarded partnership agreement terms, and stole plaintiffs’ opportunities. During discovery, plaintiffs moved to compel production of documents concerning business negotiations in which each defendant’s attorney discussed with nonclients liability and obligations as Urban’s general partner and use of a “synthetic partnership” to avoid partnership obligations. Defendants claimed privilege, but plaintiffs argued that, having disclosed legal advice on these subjects with each other outside of any confidential relationship, defendants could not later object that those subjects were privileged. The motion was granted; defendants refused to comply and were held in contempt. The appellate court affirmed. The supreme court reversed, holding that attorney-client privilege had not been waived because the sought-after disclosures had occurred in an extrajudicial context and were not thereafter used by the clients to gain a tactical advantage in litigation. The “subject-matter waiver” doctrine was not shown to be applicable.View "Ctr. Partners, Ltd. v. Growth Head GP, LLC, " on Justia Law
Khan v. Deutsche Bank AG
In 2009, plaintiffs alleged that the defendants, in 1999 and 2000, marketed and sold to them investments, known as the 1999 Digital Options Strategy and the 2000 COINS Strategy, which were promoted as producing profits and reducing tax liabilities. Plaintiffs were charged substantial fees, but the promised benefits did not occur. The parties agree that the five-year statute of limitations for actions not otherwise provided for is applicable. The circuit court dismissed; the appellate court reversed and remanded. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, applying the “discovery rule” that a limitation period begins to run when the plaintiff knows or reasonably should know of the injury and its wrongful cause. The limitation period began to run when the IRS issued deficiency notices to plaintiffs in 2008. The complaint adequately alleged breach of fiduciary duty; that there was no basis for dismissing the claim as legally insufficient.View "Khan v. Deutsche Bank AG" on Justia Law
Lawlor v. N. Am. Corp. of IL
Lawlor worked for NA, selling corporate promotional items. In 2005, she began working for a competitor. NA’s attorney, investigating whether she had violated a noncompetition agreement, retained a private investigating firm, giving Lawlor’s birth date, address, phone numbers, and social security number. That firm asked another agency to use the information to obtain personal phone records, which were forwarded to NA for determination of whether any numbers belonged to its customers. Lawlor’s tort claim alleged “pretexting,” that someone impersonated her to obtain phone records without permission. NA counterclaimed breach of fiduciary duty of loyalty by attempting to direct business to a competitor while employed. A jury awarded Lawlor $65,000 in compensatory damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages. The court heard NA’s claim, awarded $78,781 in compensatory damages and $551,467 in punitive damages, and remitted the jury’s punitive damage award to $659,000. The appellate court reinstated Lawlor’s punitive damage award. The Supreme Court held that there was sufficient evidence that NA was vicariously liable for the tortious intrusion upon seclusion by the investigators. Punitive damages should be reduced to $65,000, given the limited harm and the vicarious nature of the liability. The court agreed that evidence of breach of fiduciary duty was speculative. View "Lawlor v. N. Am. Corp. of IL" on Justia Law
Italia Foods, Inc. v. Sun Tours, Inc.
Based on faxes received in 2002, advertising discount travel, plaintiff filed a class action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, 47 U.S.C. 227. The trial court denied motions to dismiss, but certified questions to the appellate court. On appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the TCPA forms part of the law enforceable in Illinois courts without the need for the Illinois General Assembly to enact enabling legislation to permit private claims. The appellate court's discussion of the assignability of TCPA claims amounted to an advisory opinion because the amended complaint under discussion alleged that the plaintiff at issue had, itself, received junk faxes from the defendant. The court remanded for consideration of whether the claim is subject to the Illinois two-year limitations period for actions including personal injuries and statutory penalties (735 ILCS 5/13-202) or the four-year limitations period for federal civil actions (28 U.S.C. 1658).